The focus of this research is to investigate the CPD of educators in an independent school in UAE. So as to understand the concept of CPD from the point of view of expatriate teachers in the setting, this study investigates their perceptions and attitudes about CPD; alongside their perceptions of CPD activities and the reasons and factors which sway on their attitudes. It additionally investigates instructors' recommendations about improving CPD in their setting with exceptional accentuation on the talk of expert improvement in UAE. It is normal that the aftereffects of this investigation will increase consciousness of these perspectives among experienced teachers in a secondary school that has creativity at the center of its root. It is additionally expected that the investigation will raise suggestions to consider for improving the CPD experience of instructors in the specific situation. Information was acquired utilizing eye to eye standardized open-ended interviews with instructors who have been in UAE teaching profession for two years. Thematic analysis was carried out manually and the Nvivo software was used to increase the reliability of the results. The findings revealed that respondents perceived CPD as a lifelong professional improvement that results in huge changes. The results also showed that the participants have high preference for CPD activities that provide an opportunity for collaboration and discourse. Also, the teachers are cognizant of the potential benefits of CPD initiatives in their profession. However, the respondents felt they were ignored as their opinions were not considered during the implementation of CPD programmes. The findings illustrate that when teachers feel neglected in their profession, they seek support from alternative forms of professional development. Although the teachers engaged in CPD activities frequently, they had not yet felt the impacts of such programmes in their teaching practice mainly because they were generic and did not focus on their specific needs.
Keywords: CPD, Independent schools, United Arab Emirates, Professional Development, Professional Knowledge, Professional Identity.
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Background to the Study
The teacher development process is an endless process that starts at initial teacher training and proceeds throughout the time the teacher practices the profession. Given that teaching is a public profession, teachers have high societal expectations to constantly come up with ways of improving student learning. That is realized by facilitating teachers to continually evolve in the utilization, application, and adaptation of their skills and knowledge (Day & Sachs, 2004). In this view, the term continuous professional development (CPD) is applied to refer to all the endeavors engaged by teachers throughout their career to improve their practice (Day & Sachs, 2004).
Craft (2000) emphasizes that teachers undertake learning programmes in their practice not due to shortage of knowledge but rather to meet the needs of their profession in catering for the dynamic and fast changing education. From a broad perspective, continuous professional development (CPD) and professional development (PD) are used to mean all types of formal and informal learning by teachers. Although the terms professional development and continuous professional development are both used to mean "ongoing teacher development," this research has opted to use the term CPD because it is most commonly used between the two in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which forms the context of this research.
Stakeholders of the education sector in UAE have acknowledged that Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a vital component. A study by Ridge (2014) revealed that several schools in the UAE have developed and adopted the tenets on which CPD stands (Ridge, 2014). As such, many schools in Al Ain have emphasized on the need for their teachers to engage in CPD activities. Despite the emphasis on teacher development especially on international schools, the extent of their development remains an under-researched area. Therefore, this research study will investigate the perceptions and experiences of teachers about CPD in an independent international school in the UAE.
1.2 Research Problem
The researcher's focus on the study of CPD in an independent secondary school reflects her work in the UAE schools for several years, which has led to the realization of the significance of CPD in teachers' practice. While conducting this research, the researcher is cognizant of the fact that while many CPD studies have focused on the Western countries, context has a huge impact in this case hence the different factors that affect the CPD activities of UAE teachers. One such factor is that the school where this study will be carried out is an international school and adopts a somewhat different approach than other schools in the UAE. For instance, unlike other schools that follow the curriculum provided by the Ministry of Education, the school provides extra subjects like Home Economics, Drama, Commerce, Business Studies, ICT, and Art. For this reason, the CPD activities are different from those stipulated by the Ministry of Education.
Although the MoE provides schools with a framework that guides their CPD activities, the unique requirements of CPD activities for these schools means that there are only a handful of schools that can share their CPD activities. As a result, the majority of the teachers' needs are not addressed. A survey conducted by the school in 2018-19, which interviewed about half of the staff (55.3%), revealed that 60% of the respondents wanted the CPD activities to be subject-specific such that they offer more opportunities and address their needs. Also, the respondents noted the CPD activities as currently constituted were a waste of time. To avert this, they noted the activities should be more purposeful and linked to the performance management targets.
Also, the researcher's interest in this subject stems from engagement with the largest CPD provider institution through teaching. Based on these results and the insights obtained from interactions with teachers in Al-Ain, I realized that many teachers disregarded institutional CPD activities and instead preferred non-institutional CPD activities, as evidenced by their high participation rate. The lack of interest in institutional developmental activities could be attributed to teachers feeling unheard, unappreciated, and disempowered in their teaching practice. Also, the results suggest that although the teachers could make a positive contribution to professional development within their school, they are likely not to have the motivation to do so or the opportunity. That partly explains why many educators have a higher preference for non-institutional CPD opportunities.
While there are several assertions put forward to understand the feelings and experiences of teachers in Al-Ain, they only provide half-truths. The lack of a definitive answer to explain this phenomenon highly motivated the researcher to investigate the reasons behind that behaviour.
1.3 Research Objectives
The primary objective of this study is to assess the teachers' perceptions and experiences in CPD in methods used in an independent secondary school which the research has an overall responsibility to lead and manage. In the past, there has been evidence of negative practices that harm the efficiency of CPD programs. With increased government involvement, how have the teachers responded, and how has it affected their attitudes towards the CPD programs.
1.4 Research Questions
What are the teachers' experiences and perceptions of CPD at an independent school in the UAE??
What are the teacher's perceptions of the implications of school-based and networked CPD approaches?What is the impact of coaching and mentoring in individual teacher's professional development?
What is the teachers' most preferred professional development approaches?
In the past two decades, UAE has made significant strides in improving the quality of education. Unlike in the 1980s, when only 65% of locals graduated from high school, this has increased to 97% in 2016 (Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, 2018). This shows that the learning environment has been conducive and encourages learners to stay in school. This observation informs the following hypotheses.
H1: The majority of teachers in the UAE have positive perceptions towards CPD hence, the improvement of the school's education quality.
Improvement in the UAE's quality of education is dependent on improving the teachers' training for the novice in undergraduate training and improving the in-service training courses for those already practicing. Based on explanations given earlier in this paper, such actions basically constitute CPD. Therefore, it is in this light this study hypothesizes that improving education means improving CPD which means that the tutors had embraced and formed positive attitudes towards the concept. The study is formulated around and anchored on a conceptual and theoretical framework based on professional development, professional knowledge, and professional identity.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be significant as they will allow deeper understanding into the concept of CPD and the perceptions and experiences of teachers in an independent international school in the UAE. The results will also provide insights into the different types of CPD available to the teachers, factors affecting their preferences on CPD, impacts of the CPD programmes, as well as other important issues about CPD. In particular, the study results will prove significant in helping stakeholders understand institutionalised CPD by viewing it fro...
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